“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Happy New Year! As we welcome in 2024, some may still be finalizing their new year’s resolutions. Others may be leery of making a resolution for fear of ‘breaking” it before the day’s end. Personally, I tend to resonate with the latter. This is largely because my broken resolutions far outweigh those I have been able to keep over the years. More recently, rather than making resolutions, I have found myself trying to embrace the new year as an opportunity for new beginnings.

There are some clear similarities between a new year’s resolution and a new beginning. Resolutions and new beginnings each include an element of growth and transformation. Yet, within the context of our Christian faith, the focus, and the source from which we draw our strength may differ. New year’s resolutions usually include a concrete plan to achieve a specific goal or change a behavior. To achieve these goals, people may heavily rely on their own willpower and personal fortitude. When the goal is achieved, success is often celebrated and when a resolution is ‘broken,’ feelings of failure, disappointment or frustration are common.

New beginnings tend to be more holistic. While a new beginning can include a shift in perspective or action, it also recognizes our limitations and dependence on God. The focus is not just about changing our behavior, but also about changing our hearts and growing in our relationship with Jesus. When we fall short, as Christians, we know we are met with God’s grace and mercy. We do not have to wait until next week or tomorrow to begin anew. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

 As we begin anew again, may we find space to reflect, renew and commit.

Time to reflect:

-Pray, meditate and/or journal: Take time for silent prayer and reflection. Consider what you want the coming year to look like and how you can draw closer to God. Jot down your thoughts and insights.

-Gratitude: Reflect on the past year and name the successes and the challenges. Express your gratitude to God and to others for the joys and the hardships.

Renewal:

-Renew commitments and rekindle your passions: reaffirm your commitment to your faith and values and identify ways you can seek and express your passions.

-Seek forgiveness and practice reconciliation: Identify areas in your life that need healing, offer forgiveness and seek reconciliation where possible.

Commitment:

-Service: Look for ways to serve others in your church or community. Volunteering, helping a neighbor in need or offering a kind word to someone can make a significant impact.

-Growth: Commit to continuing your faith journey, schedule time to read scripture and devotions, join a Bible study or participate in a faith based small group.

-Joy: Remember that joy and hope are central to the Christian faith. Even amidst the challenges, try to celebrate God’s presence in your life and share that joy with others.